D.N.I.S. News Network – A task force will soon be constituted by the Union Government to initiate a countrywide programme for prevention of speech and hearing disabilities, similar to the one for preventing blindness, according to Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Anbumani Ramdoss.
While inaugurating a new administrative building of the All-India Institute of Speech and Hearing (AIISH) in Mysore, Dr. Ramdoss said the programme will be launched in 34 centres initially — one each in 25 States and nine Union Territories. The objective is to provide services pertaining to prevention, early identification, and intervention, and the AIISH will be the nodal agency, he added.
The thrust of the new programme would be on early detection of speech and hearing disability among children. The Government is expected to approve the programme, he added.
A pilot programme will be launched by the AIISH in Mysore and Mandya districts in Karnataka, Vellore and Villupuram districts in Tamil Nadu, and Malappuram in Kerala, the Minister was quoted as saying to an English news daily.
He said 10 per cent to 13 per cent of schoolchildren in the country have speech defects, including difficulty in articulation, stuttering, middle-ear disorders, which lead to learning disability. Dr. Ramdoss quoted from data collected by the National Sample Survey Organisation and said that among every one lakh people in the country, there are 291 persons with hearing loss and 207 persons with speech defects.